18 Jan 2023
18 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Mapping land degradation risk due to wind and water erosion

Mahdi Boroughani1, Fahimeh Mirchooli2, Mojtaba Hadavifar3, and Stephanie Fiedler4 Mahdi Boroughani et al.
  • 1Assistant Professor of Research Center for Geoscience and Social Studies, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran
  • 2Research Center for Geoscience and Social Studies, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran
  • 3Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences Department, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran
  • 4University of Cologne, Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, Cologne, Germany

Abstract. Land degradation is a cause of many social, economic, and environmental problems. Therefore identification and monitoring of high-risk areas for land degradation are necessary. Despite the importance of land degradation, the topic receives often relatively little attention. The present study aims to create a land degradation map in terms of soil erosion caused by wind and water erosion of semi-dry land. We focus on the Lut watershed in Iran encompassing the Lut Desert that is influenced by both monsoon rainfalls and dust storms. Dust sources are identified using MODIS satellite images with the help of four different indices to quantify uncertainty. The dust source maps are assessed with three machine learning algorithms encompassing artificial neural network (ANN), random forest (RF), and flexible discriminant analysis (FDA) to map dust sources paired with soil erosion susceptibility due to water. We assess the accuracy of the maps from the machine learning results with the metric Area Under the Curve (AUC) of the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC). The maps for water and aeolian soil erosion are used to identify different classes of land degradation risks. The results show that 43 % of the watershed is prone to land degradation in terms of both aeolian and water erosion. Most regions (45 %) have a risk of water erosion and some regions (7 %) a risk of aeolian erosion. Only a small fraction (4 %) of the total area of the region had a low to very low susceptibility for land degradation. The results of this study underline the risk of land degradation for an inhabited region in Iran. Future work should focus on land degradation associated with soil erosion from water and storms in larger regions to evaluate the risks also elsewhere.

Mahdi Boroughani et al.

Status: open (until 01 Mar 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1511', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Jan 2023 reply

Mahdi Boroughani et al.

Mahdi Boroughani et al.


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Short summary
The present study used several different data sets, conducted a field survey and paired the data with three different machine learning algorithms to construct spatial maps for areas of risk for land degradation for the Lut watershed in Iran. land degradation map, almost the entire study region is at risk. A large fraction of 43 % of the area is prone to both high wind-driven plus water-driven soil erosion.